Our Tarbert Team
THE DISTILLERY FAMILY
A GROWING ENTERPRISE
BUILDING FROM THE TARBERT TEN
When the distillery first opened its doors to the public back in 2015 the number of people working here could be counted on two hands.
We called them The Tarbert Ten.
Our founding family were all men and women from our local community and not one of them had worked in a distillery before.
They were Kenny Maclean, Shona Macleod, Domhnall Macleod, Kate Preston, Donnie Macleod, Sandra Fraser, Peter Kwasniewski, Alexander Macleod, Angus MacSween and Billy Fraser.
Leading this new Hearaich team was Simon Erlanger our managing director.
Together, they provided the bedrock for building our future as a living, breathing distillery set firmly in the heart of Harris.
Since then, our team here in Tarbert has grown to almost forty permanent members, far surpassing all our early aspirations to create secure employment here on Harris in our first few years.
As word of our work spreads, we hope to keep growing sustainably, passing on all we learn from this new generation to the next.
HARRIS HANDS FOR HARRIS SPIRITS
We wanted to create sustainable employment right from the outset of our enterprise.
Rather than import experienced distillers from elsewhere in Scotland, we chose to train local people to help us make true Harris spirits.
We found four men who had never made a drop of whisky or gin in their lives but had the drive and pride to take on this new challenge and become our island's first legal distillers.
They came from a variety of backgrounds, from time-served builder to experienced joiner, ex-engineer to former facilities manager.
Today, they make every drop of our spirits, confident in their abilities but always learning as this life-long journey in their chosen craft continues.
The original four-strong team of Kenny, Donnie, Billy and Domhnall have now been joined by a fifth, as Norman Iain Mackay was recruited to meet demand for the Isle of Harris Gin and lay down more casks for The Hearach single malt.
We're also delighted to bring two new additions into the distilling family as former policeman Phil Bertin begins his training and young school-leaver Rebekah Morrison undertakes our first formal apprenticeship.
Together, they bring Harris spirits into the world, straight from Harris hands.
SHARING OUR SPIRIT
We pride ourselves in offering a warm Outer Hebridean welcome to anyone who chooses to join us here at the distillery in Tarbert.
Open six days a week, always resting on the seventh, our doors are open to all as we seek to share our spirit and story.
Each morning, our staff light the blaze of a traditional peat fire to greet everyone who walks through our distillery doors, a symbol of the hospitality they will continue to offer throughout the day.
Led by Shona Macleod, the guest team looks after visitors who join us each week from all around the world, always extending a hand of friendship from the Isle of Harris.
Knowledgeable local guide Sandra Fraser usually takes regular tours and tastings in non-COVID times, allowing access to the behind-the-scenes areas and a more in-depth experience of our work.
Meantime she cheerfully presides over the distillery Shop with Shona, the perfect place to pick up a bottle of Isle of Harris Gin and browse our range of exclusive glassware and other curated goods to buy and take home.
BEHIND THE SCENES
THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE HARRIS DISTILLERY
Although open to the public, we are very much a working distillery and much goes on behind the scenes to keep our spirit flowing as we ship our beautiful bottles around the word from the distillery's home village of Tarbert.
Those who take a tour with us will see much of the hidden activity which makes up our day-to-day life, and encounter many of the special people who ensure our business always runs smoothly and safely.
People like John Maywaters, who manages all our production operations and handles logistics, aided by Harry Wood, Becca Passmore, Stevie Brown and Malky Campbell.
You may also see Stevie Passmore on one of his many missions to fix or find solutions for technical issues around the building.
Then there is our wonderful cleaner Kate MacSween who keeps the place spick and span.
Hidden away in our office are the the Business Development and Admin staff, including Peter Kwasniewski and Angus MacSween, Kath Macdonald, Ruth Macleod, Maggie Christopher and Jacqueline MacAskill, handling everything from global shipping to our Click & Collect service in a sea of spreadsheets and flurry of phone calls.
We also have our distillery Storytellers, Mike Donald, Lauren MacSween, and Mairi MacKenzie who share every aspect of our work through our social media channels to keep you connected to us no matter where you are in the world.
And further afield, Rachel Macdonald, Iona Cairns and Calum Barker work hard to bring our story to people in person, around the UK and beyond.
" I'm very proud of the family we are building here at the Harris Distillery. Job creation is at the heart of our plans and we're making good on this promise. I love the positive 'crofting mentality' here too, where everyone is willing to lend a hand to help get the job done, regardless of role. "Simon Erlanger, Managing Director, Isle of Harris Distillers Ltd.